Tuesday, April 24, 2012

GPC Biographical Piece

Photo by Kevin A. Jackson

Quiet Protestor

Behind the desk, Sherry Lynn Durren fits the cliché of a typical librarian. She is quiet, reserved, polite and highly knowledgeable. When she steps away from her role of Media Librarian at the Clarkston campus Jim Cherry Learning and Resource Center, Sherry is a devoted humanitarian, animal lover and future grandmother.

Originally from Kalamazoo, Michigan, Sherry Lynn is the oldest of three kids with one brother and one sister. As a child and still today, Sherry was an outdoors-type of girl. She spent time as a child reading and writing and even volunteered at her school library in junior high school. Much of her socializing was with extended family for holidays.

During the Vietnam War, Sherry became involved in the civil rights and equality movement. Even though she was just a teenager, Sherry took a stand for what she believed in. Growing up, Sherry was not raised to follow a traditional faith like most American families did at that time. In her adolescent years, Sherry says she was atheist but often studied other religions. Now she studies the Buddhist faith and applies what she has learned to her everyday life.

A constant part of Sherry’s life as a teen her expression of the right to assemble. She expressed her freedoms to assemble, to speak, and to write. In Kalamazoo, she wrote for an underground news publication called The Patriot. With the Patriot, Sherry wrote about the corruption of America, events in and around Ann Arbor and Kalamazoo, and liberal ideals.

At this age, Sherry was also part of a semi-popular Michigan jazz band called the Shultz Food Band. The group started their temporary ascent to stardom over, commonly enough, food. One night, a gentleman by the name of Sherman Shultz had graced Sherry and her band mates with his presence.

Sherman started clinking his glass with his fork and pretty soon the entire gang was “moving and grooving” to the impromptu beat. Within just a matter of months, the Shultz Food Band had grown significantly popular in the Lake Michigan area, playing for large crowds several nights a week. Sherry says “those were some of the best days I remember. I met some many people I otherwise would have never met.”

On May 4, 1970 at Kent State University, four student demonstrators were shot and nine were injured by National Guard. In honor of these fallen freedom fighters, Sherry and other students across the nation protested the travesty. She had her friends assembled outside a Michigan post office and occupied the area for several days.

           In 1984, Sherry started college at Agnes Scott at the age of 34 and graduated four years later with a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry. At the time, she was a single mother to her 4 year old daughter. “It was hard getting by financially,” Sherry said thinking back on those college years. A feminist herself, Sherry has taught her daughter about self-reliance and perseverance.

She made ends meet by working several jobs, one of which was at the Georgia Institute of Technology in the nuclear reactor building. The reactor was shut down on Feb. 15, 1988 due to contamination.

Ten years after achieving her first degree, Sherry acquired her Master’s degree in Library Sciences from the University of South Carolina.

For the past ten years, Sherry has participated in anti-war and pro-peace movements.  At the beginning of the second war with Iraq, she ventured to the nation’s capital to protest the war.

“We rode a bus from Atlanta that traveled overnight, spent one long day in DC, and rode back that night!” Sherry smiles as she thinks back to the day. This protest was one of the largest gatherings Sherry has had the opportunity to participate in.

Late in the evening, Sherry boarded a bus northbound for D.C. On the bus were people of different ages, genders, religions and orientations. The bus would return the very next night.

 Thinking back, Sherry remembers the energy from the crowd. Israelis, Muslims, Buddhists, union workers from all over the East coast and Detroit were in attendance. The experience gave Sherry a strong feeling of camaraderie.

“On the way to DC we had to stop twice for Muslims on our bus to wash and pray. I had never experienced that before, “says Sherry.

Monica Brown, a former library assistant in the Clarkston campus Jim Cherry Learning and Resource Center has spent several years working with Sherry.

“Sherry is definitely the type to maintain peace,” Monica says. “Sherry's really easy to work with. She has a patient and calm demeanor. She's always upbeat and positive.”

Research sources:
Monica Brown
Sherry Durren

Places to Publish:
RezLibris - Magazine for librarians
Bitch magazine - Feminist magazine



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